2012 data show that the direct costs of construction – consisting of construction payroll, costs of construction work subcontracted out to others, and costs for materials/supplies – vary from 65% of total revenue of specialty trade contractors to 87% of the business receipts of multifamily general contractors without land costs. For single-family general contractors (who build on land customers own), the direct costs of construction consume on average 81% of the total revenue.

National Association of Home Builders economics department staffer Natalia Siniavskaia looks at the breakdown of costs, ranging from construction labor, to construction materials, supplies and fuels, capital depreciation and other expenses, subcontractors, non-construction labor, and residual profit. She writes:

For single-family general contractors, 7 percent of total business receipts go to pay wages of construction workers. Specialty trade contractors, who maintain larger construction payrolls and subcontract out a minimum amount of work, spend on average 19 percent of total revenue on construction payroll. In sharp contrast, multifamily general contractors who subcontract out most of the work, spend only 3 percent on the construction payroll. Their biggest expenditure is the cost of construction work subcontracted out to others, 63 percent of the total revenue.

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